Imagine biting into a ripe, juicy, luscious tomato picked fresh from the garden in August. Your tastebuds explode with goodness as the sweet yet tangy juice runs down your chin. Pair that with a fresh leaf of basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and homemade, creamy fior di latte (mozzarella), and there’s no beating this simple combination of fresh foods.
Now taste a tomato from the grocery store today–it’s likely a sickly red inside and tastes like plastic. While it’s convenient to have access to tomatoes year-round, the flavor of produce in season just can’t be beat. It’s no wonder we mask many foods with salt and heavy sauces.
The local food movement continues to grow in popularity as people increasingly turn to home gardens, farmers markets and community-supported agriculture, as people realize the many benefits of eating locally and sustainably.
“People realize the benefit of having a one-on-one relationship with a farmer,” says Elmhurst resident Bob Vierow. “It’s great to know who is growing their food and what their practices are.”
Vierow owns and operates Bob’s Fresh & Local, a CSA that offers members a weekly share of the produce he grows using organic practices. His family farm is located just a half hour west in St. Charles; Vierow’s family has been farming in DuPage county for more than 150 years.
“We don’t ever use any chemicals in any phase of our operation–no non-organic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides,” he says.
Although it can be more difficult to farm this way, he believes in the safety and value of this practice.
Many small, local farmers may use organic practices but they may not be able to certify their produce as organic. Organic certification, which is regulated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, involves a three-year lengthy and expensive process, making it cost-prohibitive for the local farmer. That’s why it’s important to have a rapport with your grower/seller; you can inquire firsthand about their farming practices, according to Vierow.
Elmhurst residents can now purchase a membership into Vierow’s CSA for the upcoming summer. Memberships are available in half and full shares; entitling you to a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce for 20 weeks beginning in June. 112 N. York Road, will be the local pickup location for Elmhurst members.
“A full share works out to about $31 per week,” says Vierow. “You’ll receive about three-fourths of a bushel of fresh vegetable and herbs—approximately 1-1/2 heaping paper grocery bags—picked fresh from the field within 36 hours of delivery.”
Members can expect their boxes to contain anywhere from nine to 15 types of vegetables and herbs in their box, according to season. The early season may yield collard greens, French radishes and swiss chard, for example.
“We also include a weekly newsletter and recipes with each membership, sharing farmer observations and what to expect in the next shipment,” says Vierow.
Vierow encourages members to call him with any questions; he’ll even give you a tour of his farm, if he has advance notice.
Elmhurst business owner is also very committed to selling local and organic foods. 105 S. York St., offers a wide assortment of locally grown items and free range meats and poultry, as well as exotic free range meats, such as bison, ostrich and elk.
“We try to purchase from local sources as much as possible, and we identify the source of all of our products,” says Conte, co-owner of . The Boucherie, open since November, also carries imported products from Italy, specialty condiments, fine cheeses, LaBriola bread, frozen gourmet appetizers and more.
Amano Boucherie will have its grand opening party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. Conte says the event will be chock full of food, information and fun.
“We will have complimentary food display tables, wine tastings and specials on our meat, fish and poultry,” Conte says. “Representatives from many of our purveyors will be on hand, including Bill Kurtis, renowned journalist and founder of Tallgrass Beef.”
Kurtis will discuss the health benefits of grass-fed beef from noon until 2 p.m.
Tallgrass Beef raises only 100 percent grass-fed cattle, which is lower in saturated fat than conventionally raised beef, higher in vitamins and protein, and contains a better ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are believed by many scientists and nutritionists to be inflammatory to the body when consumed in excess. Conventionally raised cows are generally fed a diet high in grains rather than grass, their natural food of choice.
And if that isn’t enough to entice you to attend, there’s even more:
- Knife skill demonstrations by Conte at the top of every hour
- Cooking demonstrations by Café Amano Sous chefs Manuel and Debbie throughout the event
- Bob Vierow will have a table with information about his CSA. Stop by to get more information and sign up.
- Local representatives from Fortune Fish, Salt Creek Pottery, BlackWing Organic Farms, Good Wives appetizers and more will be on hand to answer questions about their products
Raffle tickets will also be sold during the event to benefit two charities: and Touch My Heart.
This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the benefits of free range meat and organic produce, as well as to just have some fun in February! I will be there, covering the event, and hope to see all of you as well.
As Conte says, “The more the merrier!”